Access Now: AORN COVID-19 Clinical Support

Archive Staff & Patient Safety 2018

5 Steps to Smoke-Free Surgery

Your staff will breathe a collective sigh of relief when you clear the OR air of harmful contaminants.

Joann Ruff

Joann Ruff, BSN, CNOR

BIO

BUDGETARY HURDLE
Pamela Bevelhymer, RN, BSN, CNOR
BUDGETARY HURDLE If disposable electrocautery pens are included in your surgical packs, it could be difficult to justify adding smoke evacuators.

Last June, Rhode Island became the first state in the nation to mandate the evacuation of surgical smoke during plume-producing procedures performed in hospitals and surgical centers. Perioperative nurses around the country celebrated the news and hoped their state would be next to protect them from dangerous pollutants that waft through the OR air. Why wait for state legislators to force your hand when you already have the authority to transform your ORs from smoky dens to smoke-free work spaces?

1. Know the risks

The long-term effects of exposure to surgical smoke may not be fully understood yet, but the list of potential hazards contained in plume reads like a sign at a toxic waste site. There's benzene, for example, which can cause anemia by suppressing the production of red blood cells, and which can also damage the immune system by altering blood levels of antibodies. There's hydrogen cyanide, which is potentially deadly, because it prevents cells from properly absorbing oxygen. There's also formaldehyde, which can cause a whole host of problems, including nasal and eye irritation, sore throats, nosebleeds, neurological effects and an increased risk of asthma.

Those are just a few of the concerns. Smoke particles travel fast — up to 40 mph. When electrosurgical units are activated, the concentration of particles can quickly increase from 60,000 particles per cubic foot to more than 1 million particles per cubic foot. It takes another 20 minutes for levels to return to normal.

New to Outpatient Surgery Magazine?
Sign-up to continue reading this article.
Register Now
Have an account? Please log in:
Email Address:
  Remember my login on this computer

advertiser banner

Other Articles That May Interest You

Stop Breathing in Surgical Smoke

Joint national grassroots efforts to keep pushing for evacuation in every OR.

Facilities Canceling Elective Surgeries

Hospitals and surgery centers are preparing to care for increasing numbers of coronavirus cases.

Coronavirus Crisis Continues to Escalate

Conference cancelations mark the beginning of an uncertain future